TOMMY Lawson’s Skelmersdale United go into Christmas on the back of a three-way celebration.
They occupy top position in the Evo-Stik Premier Division, Saturday saw them hit the landmark 1,000th goal of Tommy’s six and a half reign as manager and they did it with a thumping victory that contained a hat-trick from striker Dean Astbury.
Skelmersdale opened like a team on a mission, Matty Hughes shot just wide of the near post, then only a brave dive at the feet of Ashley Dunn by Steels goalkeeper Jack Ward kept out the marauding midfielder.
It had a kind of inevitability about it when Skelmersdale struck in the 22nd minute.
Tom Ince drove on from the centre-circle and found Jack Laird on the edge of the penalty area with his pass; Laird’s shot clipped a defender on route to dropping behind Ward into the Stocksbridge net.
Nine minutes later it was two. A move starting with goalkeeper Zac Hibbert went through half a dozen passes before it was delivered to Hughes on the halfway line. One thing Hughes is known for is dribbling, he did then released the ball to Astbury on the edge of the penalty area, he turned his man and sent the ball past Ward’s despairing dive to his left and into the net.
Before the interval Hughes went close to scoring, after it he wasted no time at all in righting that.
Cutting in from the left his first shot was blocked and the ball ran back to him, the second went like a rocket and dipped over Ward into the top corner, a classic dipping half-volley that fully deserved to be the historic 1,000th goal.
It had a sort of symmetry about it too as the talented youngster was signed by Tommy in one of his legendary raids on local football, in this case parks football in Wigan.
The game was effectively over and just to emphasise it Skelmersdale got two in two minutes.
Dunn bagging the goal his efforts deserved when forcing the ball home from close range in the 53rd minute from Adam Morning’s cross.
The fifth in the 55th minute was somewhat overshadowed by the other events of the day, but was right out of the top drawer. Hughes was crudely fouled by John Travis about 22 yards from goal, Astbury lined up the free-kick perfectly, curling the ball over the Stocksbridge defensive wall and dropping it inside the post.
Later on the Highwayman Man of the Match Kenny Strickland brought a great save out of Ward and Morning was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet before Astbury completed his maiden Skelmersdale hat-trick. The number nine switched the ball from left to right foot and put it into the far corner.
After the game when talking about his 1,000th goal, Tommy Lawson commented: “I would like to thank everyone involved. Goals are scored by teams not players.”
l SKELMERSDALE UNITED: Hibbert, Strickland, Ince, Hardwick ©, Wylie, Dunn, Hughes (Greene, 76), Burton, Astbury (Tuck, 73), Laird, Morning (Peet, 70) Subs (not used) Holden, O’Reilly
l STOCKSBRIDGE PARK STEELS: Ward, Banton, Travis, Swirad, Bowden-Lovell, Knowles (Callery, 55), Royles, Dimaio, South (Ring, 71), Joynes, Bettney (Hoyles, 55) Subs (not used) Evans, Lipka
l Referee: Andy Cawtherley (Stockport)
l Attendance: 219